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New Beginnings

To kick off this term, we installed our summer project work in our studio spaces for a 24hr pop-up exhibition, giving us a chance to see how our pieces worked together in a gallery-style space, and also allowing us to critique our work in groups to see where it went well and where it missed the mark and could be improved.

My worked was made using rubber latex sheeting; cut, folded and hand stitched into a tubular structure. Then sealed with 10 layer of liquid latex, five on each side of the seams, with a hole left at the top to allow them to be filled with water and acrylic ink that I mixed to get the correct bodily and deathly colours. Once filled they were completely sealed so they were water tight.

The way that the pieces were hung and how they filled the space became very important to my work. I wanted them at various levels, hung in different ways but with purpose, as if the space was used souly for storing and slaughtering these organ-like sacks, bleeding them and disgarding them. The center piece was hung by a chain and 's' hook, to look as if it were on a meat hook in a abertoire-like setting and then punctured at the bottom and bled into a plastic, see-through box. The other pieces on either side were hanging over screws drilled into the wall, allowing them to droop lifelessly. Finally, the piece on the far left was left on the floor, as if it were just disgarded remains, tangled over eachother.

I felt that my work did not interact well with the other pieces of work in the space. Although I wanted to encourage my work to be mixed in with others' and experiment more with how the different aspects of the show could play off of each other, this turned out not be in everyone's best interests. Although this allowed me to make the series of pieces almost work together as one, I think it would have been a more interesting and valueable experience if we had considered further how to curate the pieces in the space.

When it came to the group critiques, I was pleased with the initial reactions and readings of my work. Ideas about organs and slaughterhouses arose, as well as the juxtopositionary and abject feeling of wanting to look and touch the work but also finding it repulsive and uncomforting. This is exactly what I was aiming for in terms of intial responses so I am pleased that this came across. However, in terms of deeper readings, the group didn't seem to understand the nihilistic contexts, with the idea of us simply being bags of meat, lacking purpose or meaning, and disagreeing with our bodily ego and over-romanticised view of our forms and, in extension, our existance. This is obviously something that I need to think about further. I need to think about how to give hints to convey the deeper meaning behind my work.

Moving on from the group critique sessions, I started researching further into abject art, looking at work by Louise Bourgeois, Ivana Bašić and 'Meat Joy' by Carolee Schneeman, looking at how they used their work and the body to comment on societal contexts. I enjoy how their work both intreages and repells the audience, how mutations of humanoid forms look equally familiar and alien, encompassing feelings of the uncanny. Their work is both "recognisable and foreign, attractive and repulsive" ('Abject Art: Repulsion & Desire in American Art' by Craig Houser, Leslie Jones and Simon Taylor), in a way that I aim for mine to be too.

After examining these ideas I moved onto another experiment, a quick piece using the remains of the work I took down from the pop-up show. I found that my work had leaked in the box it was contained in, and had filled the bottom of the container with red/purple inky water. The 'organs' looked as if they had actually been removed from a body, covered in blood. So, with the ideas of abjection fresh in my mind, I decided to fill the box up further so the tubes were completely covered. The latex itself was still filled with liquid, so it became some strange bodily fluids inception, with everything wobbling and tangling over each other. I would like to work further with this form idea, experimenting with it on different scales and in more contextually thought out ways.

I also researched further into ideas surrounding existential nihilism, it made me think about "Darwin's universal acid" (Dennett), the idea that pre-Nietzsche, Darwin's evolutionary theories meant that science removed the need for a god, and with less faith in religion and the ideas of our origins that surround it, also came a removal of a general societal idea of purpose. I wondered if it would be interesting to include ideas of reproduction my work, seeing as in Darwin's theories our soul purpose is to procreate, and whether this would show the pointlessness to our existance better, the idea that we only exist to keep the population existing. I also thought about whether we accept our lack of purpose in 21st century. In Western culture, we are becoming less and less religious and greatly accept science as having the answers to the universe we live in, so are we content with science proving that there is no greater plan for us? Or have we replaced religion and purpose with new ideas, such as our role a consumers. Maybe we have either found new gods (like in Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods'), and therefore a new purpose, to post, to be an 'individual', to consume. Or is this not so much a new strive for meaning, but rather a distraction for the lack of meaning in our lives? If either of these are true, then maybe the term 'consume' could be examined further in my work, using both the idea of the digestive body and of consumerist culture.


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